Golden Retriever Rescue Jake … what a boy!

Don Hamer, 67, of Mill Creek affectionately warms and dries his dog, Jake, after the 4-year-old golden retriever finished playing in the water at Martha Lake Park in Lynnwood on Tuesday. Jake is a lot more than a pet. Hamer, who has epilepsy, believes Jake is capable of warning him of a seizure up to 45 minutes before it happens. Dan Bates / The Herald

I just love this story about Don Hamer and his rescued Golden boy Jake. Jake knows he was a lucky guy to be adopted, and is attached like glue to his dad. Don learned that the hard way when he returned from a trip without him. Poor Jake had scraped the fur off of 2 legs and barked himself hoarse.

Hamer, a soft-spoken, wiry 66-year-old retiree, says he adopted Jake in Albany, N.Y., Hamer’s former home, when the dog was 4 weeks old in late 2005. A friend told Hamer about a nearby adoption fair featuring dogs rescued from Gulf Coast states after Hurricane Katrina. That 2005 storm displaced thousands of people and separated pets from their owners in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Arriving at the adoption event, Hamer says he saw hundreds of malnourished and sickly dogs packed into shipping containers. He remembers seeing seven golden retriever pups and their mother. One of the pups was separated from the others. “I saw his mother had pushed him out of the litter,” he said. “She wouldn’t let him nurse.” He adopted the dog that day, nursed him to health and named him Jake.

The issue of seizure prediction, however, remains a cloudy one as most report that dogs with this ability have only developed it over time, the talent actually discovered accidentally. In 1998, Roger Reep, Ph.D., an associate professor in the department of physiological sciences at the University of Florida, surveyed 77 people between the ages of 30 and 60 who had epilepsy. The survey asked about their quality of life, medical status, attitudes toward pets, ownership of dogs, and their pets’ behavior prior to and during a seizure.

Only 3 out of the 31 felt that their dogs seemed to know when they were going to have a seizure (10 percent). Another 28 percent said their dogs stayed with them when they had a seizure. According to his research, the behavior seems to occur spontaneously and may occur in as many as one in ten situations when the owner is having at least one seizure per month. Dr. Reep concluded that reports of seizure-alerting behavior in dogs should be viewed as credible, but with caution.

Learn more about these types of assistance dogs here.


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